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Virginia men’s basketball team aims to put San Francisco loss in rearview mirror
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Virginia men’s basketball team aims to put San Francisco loss in rearview mirror

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For college athletes, few things feel worse than waiting around to play the next game after a loss.

After falling to unranked San Francisco on Friday, the Virginia men’s basketball team’s wait to return to the floor ends Tuesday evening. The Cavaliers (1-1) host Saint Francis (1-1), which opened the season with a win over Pittsburgh, at 4 p.m.

The disappointing loss to San Francisco came two days after a 35-point blowout win over Towson. The Cavaliers looked off against the Dons, suffering an unexpected setback.

Virginia won’t hide from the loss, but the Cavaliers are looking forward to moving to the next game.

“Look at it in the mirror, grow from it,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after the loss. “Forget about it.”

The loss to the Dons featured subpar 3-point shooting — Virginia went 3-for-12 from beyond the arc — and some uncharacteristically bad drives to the basket. At times the Cavaliers wildly attacked the rim, dodging defenders and firing up off-balance layups.

“The times that we got to the basket, we really labored to finish, partly because of their shot-blocking and at times we just weren’t physical enough on finishes,” Bennett said. “We avoided some contact.”

On the bright side for UVa, Saint Francis allowed 40 points in the paint in its win over Pittsburgh and in its loss to UMBC. The Red Flash struggle defensively, especially when it comes to stopping teams from scoring close to the basket.

UVa center Jay Huff and power forward Justin McKoy both possess an array of post moves that could prove valuable Tuesday. Sam Hauser has also been efficient when taking 2-point shots, making nine of his 14 attempts.

Freshman Reece Beekman was a bright spot against San Francisco, scoring 11 points while showing an ability to attack the basket and shoot from the perimeter.

Finishing through contact — and perhaps creating contact near the rim — will be an area for emphasis as the Cavaliers host an inferior foe.

UVa also wants to improve defensively. It’s been decent his season on that end, but decent doesn’t quite please the defensive-minded Bennett.

San Francisco knocked down 13 shots from 3-point range, and Bennett wasn’t thrilled with a few of the looks, which he deemed too easy. Saint Francis made nine shots from 3-point range in its victory over Pitt and three different Red Flash players have knocked down at least three 3-pointers in a game this season. Saint Francis shoots 36.8% from deep as a team through two games.

Guarding the 3-point line carries importance Tuesday.

A disappointing loss showed UVa that it needs improvement offensively and defensively. Fortunately for the Wahoos, the season is young and the ACC preseason favorite has ample time to better itself.

“We got to kind of harden up, we got to get gritty, we got to be tougher to score against and be the best version of ourselves,” Bennett said. “Nothing is assumed just because of what’s on the front of your jersey.”

When it comes to brand recognition, Virginia is the powerhouse when it hosts Saint Francis. As last week’s loss showed, that doesn’t matter when the game begins.

After a few days of waiting following the loss to San Francisco, the Cavaliers are ready to move on from the defeat and start improving.

“We played hard so, yes, we’re down on ourselves,” Beekman said after the game. “We could have played better, but it’s not like we are just all sad. We just got to move forward and look forward to the next game.”

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